A group of trekkers including Glen Reiss had experienced more than most friendships do in a lifetime. They had drank beer together, spoken about careers, their loved ones at home, and both were excited about the adventure that lay ahead. Glen and seven others had signed up for a six day adventure down the Black Cat Track in PNG; a little known but arduous World War II track – the scene of some of the fiercest fighting involving Australians
At the end of the first day of the trek, the party had been viciously ambushed. The attack resulted in three porters being killed and a number of the porters and trekkers being maimed and injured. By the end of day 2, having self-evacuated to safety the night before, Glen had been ushered to a hotel in Port Moresby to await an early flight back to Australia the next day. Though not sharing any thoughts at this time, he felt that this was just the beginning of his relationship with PNG.
On returning to PNG nine months later to visit the porters and their families and seeing firsthand the effects of the attack on some of the communities, particularly in the Salamua area – Glen and other trekker and co-founder of Living Koko, Steve Ward began discussing ways to create sustainable support to those men who had assisted them nine months earlier.
Speaking to Andrew Natau, one of the most injured and mobility impaired Porters, Glen and Steve realised there may be an opportunity to help Andew and his village, and possibly the surrounding communities, by pursuing a cacao bean-to-table trade with Andrew’s village. They decided on investing their time and money to improve the village's sustainable practices of cacao production and positively influence the community overall.
As a result, the guys started looking at ways to bring this idea to fruition. Through ongoing conversations with the PNG community here in Australia including Andrew Natau’s aunty living in Queensland Steve and Glen were working towards setting the villages up with cacao processing infrastructure. Steve has now moved onto the projects within China but Glen is still working hard trying to make this dream a reality. Glen is looking to support the villages with the infrastructure to ferment, dry and potentially roast the beans prior to shipment. It will be a long journey – but it is underway!